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We all know Vitamin D can be great for a lot of things: the maintenance of healthy bones and teeth, can help mental health conditions such as depression, and reduced risk of complications during pregnancy, but scientists have recently discovered that it could help those with heart conditions.
A recent study on 163 people with heart failure showed that supplements of the vitamin (usually naturally generated when the skin is exposed to sunlight), improved the heart’s ability to pump blood throughout the body.
At a conference with the American College of Cardiology, the team of researchers from Leeds Teaching Hospitals said the results of the study were ‘stunning’.
Unlike other studies, the average age of the participant was around 70 – a typical age for individuals who suffer from lower vitamin D levels, even throughout the summer months.
Dr Klaus Witte, consultant cardiologist said, “They do spend less time outside, but the skin’s ability to manufacture vitamin D also gets less effective [with age] and we don’t really understand why that is.”
In a healthy adult, the amount of blood pumped out of the heart with each beat is usually between 60% and 70%. However, in those participating in the trial, ejection of blood increased from 26% to 34%. Heart size also decreased, which suggests that with the medication they become more powerful and efficient.
Dr Witte was quoted as saying, “It’s quite a big deal, that’s as big as you’d expect from other more expensive treatments that we use, it’s a stunning effect.
It’s as cheap as chips, has no side effects and a stunning improvement on people already on optimal medical therapy. It is the first time anyone has shown something like this in the last 15 years.”
The British Heart Foundation has called for longer trials on the pills to assess their effectiveness, and also stated, “A much bigger study over a longer period of time is now needed to determine whether these changes in cardiac function can translate into fewer symptoms and longer lives for heart failure patients.”